The number of newborns born addicted to opioids in Colorado has jumped 83 percent from 2010 to 2015, giving yet another indication of the growing opioid addiction problem in that state and across the US.
What an Addicted Newborn Faces
Children born addicted to opiates may have low birth weight, be harder to comfort than a typical baby, and have trouble eating and sleeping. In severe cases, babies may need methadone or other medical treatment as their bodies withdraw from the drugs.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome includes symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, gagging, hiccupping, color changes, and fast breathing, among others. Babies may also have tremors and jitteriness as part of the withdrawal.
The bottom line is, addicted babies are born with tremendous disadvantages compared to babies without drugs in their systems–problems that can turn into medical, emotional, or behavioral disorders as they get older. If parents’ drug use persists, they are also at higher risk for exposure to violence and poor nutrition as they grow.
Ways To Help Addicted Newborns
A law has been passed in Colorado that allows expectant mothers to tell their doctors about drug use without facing criminal prosecution. Laws like these may seem too lenient but can allow more expectant mothers to get treatment for their opioid addiction and prevent their babies from being born addicted.
When doctors suspect that a baby might be experiencing withdrawal after birth, they can test for the presence of drugs so that they can treat the babies and make them more comfortable. Babies who are unable to eat and sleep because of neonatal abstinence syndrome may be given small doses of morphine or methadone and then weaned off the drugs slowly so that it will not be such a big shock to their tiny systems.
It may cost $60,000 or more to treat one drug-addicted baby, but treatment can reduce the severity of problems they may face later in life and may even save their lives. Getting treatment help for the expectant or new mothers is important, too. Moms of newborns are at increased risk for opioid overdoses, especially in the first month postpartum.
Improving treatment outcomes for both expectant and new mothers will improve the lives of their children now and will also be cost-effective in avoiding expensive problems that will occur later in the children’s lives.
If you or someone you know struggles with opioid addiction, Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers customized treatment plans, including treatment for expectant mothers and those who have recently given birth. Contact us to see what treatment options may be available to meet your needs or those of someone you love.